As a child, Siobahn Day Grady enjoyed regular visits to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. Exploring the educational exhibits and riding the Santa train are among her fondest memories.
Now an assistant professor in NCCU’s Library and Information Science Department, Grady is on the other side of the equation, appearing in a new video installation at the museum that highlights her work as a barrier-breaking woman in STEM.
“When I was young, I lived not too far from the museum, and my father and I would ride our bikes there,” she said. “Being featured by the museum is a full-circle moment for me.”
Grady, who joined the faculty in 2019, teaches courses such as computer science and information systems, and conducts research on machine learning for a variety of purposes, from self-driving vehicles to social media.
Grady said her interest in computers has been consistent since childhood. Her father was a mathematician and computer programmer and her mother worked for IBM.
“As an only child, I spent a lot of time on computers honing that skill set,” she said. “I also was a video-gamer and played mostly with my boy cousins, but I never thought of it as something girls didn’t do.”
After graduating from Northern High School in Durham, she attended Winston-Salem State University for her undergraduate degree and earned a master’s in information science at NCCU and a master’s in computer science from N.C. A&T State University. In 2018, she became the first woman to receive a doctoral degree in computer science from A&T.
While busy with teaching and research, Grady still finds time to serve as a volunteer in a number of a capacities encouraging young people, especially girls of color, to consider careers in sciences, technology, engineering or mathematics.
Grady recently was appointed to the board of the National Girls Collaborative Project, where she works to support girls, minorities and others considering computer science and other STEM careers. Additionally, she received a regional award from her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., earlier this year for her commitment to education and technology.
Two years ago, Grady was chosen as a STEM Ambassador for the If/Then Initiative, a national effort by Lyda Hill Philanthropies to support women in STEM and influence the way women scientists are perceived. The initiative’s motto is: IF we support a woman in STEM, THEN she can change the world.”
“As an ambassador, I do outreach and have spoken to young people all over the world within the last year, encouraging them to pursue STEM by sharing my story,” Grady said. “I’ve spoken at national and international conferences.”
The If/Then exhibit includes 3D printed life-sized statues of more than 120 women professionals and role models and is considered the largest scale 3D printing project to date. The exhibit made its debut in May 2021 in Dallas’ NorthPark Center, where it will remain through October. The exhibit features interactive elements, such as audio and video presentations.